Newcastle’s Ouseburn area was often heralded as the city’s most cultural sector, in the old days before The Corona. Situated moments outside the city, lay a trail of unique pubs and bars, perfect for a day of quirky drinking along the Tyne. Ouseburn Trail started at Nancy’s Bordello, around the corner from Manors station, and offered an experience unlike the city centre’s bars or cocktail scene in nearby Jesmond.
Now, these venues are closed for their own safety, doing what they can under the circumstances.
Nancy’s Bordello was the high-end of the trail. In the swanky bar, you could order fancy cocktails, premium lager, and an array of snacky bar dishes. The roof terrace was good for a date, or celebrating special occasions. It wasn’t uncommon to see Northumbria Uni students dropping in after a day’s worth of classes. Nancy’s had a cool atmosphere, with comfy seating, so you could have sat there all evening, or began a wild night.
Nancy’s were providing a pub quiz for their patrons under house arrest up till last week, but have been silent on Facebook since then.
The Tanner’s Arms
The Tanner’s Arms was next, accessible if you headed east from Nancy’s, up Stepney Lane. Tanner’s bar is uniquely built, with it’s entirely square, central bar. Some seating and a pool table was available to the side, but the primary seating was around the bar.
The Tanner’s are trucking on with food deliveries and collections.
The Ship Inn & The Cluny
If you continue east down Stepney Lane, you’ll reach an opening, where the Ship Inn and the Cluny are facing each other. The Ship Inn was a typical working men’s pub, small and tight, the seating area is confined to a few tables, and a further two outside. The novelty is its proximity to the Cluny, facing directly opposite, about fifteen feet away.
The Cluny had a reputation for live music, offering the best of local artists, regularly putting on show’s outside the main entrance in the summer. Inside, it is spacious, with multiple floors, and with a dedicated gig room.
These venues had a successful crowd funder to stay afloat, and are optimistically planning Cluny Comeback Gigs.
The Cumberland Arms
If you turn right outside the main entrance, you’ll see farmland, and adjacent to it, a massive set of steps. At the top of those steps is the Cumberland Arms; a small bar, overlooking the previous two establishments.
They are promoting mini ale casks to take the edge off the loss of your job, freedom, and plans for the future.
The Tyne Bar
If you head down Byker Bank, and head east along Ford St, you’ll happen upon the Tyne Bar. A local favourite, and not too dissimilar to the Cluny, the Tyne Bar had dedicated outside space for live music. Situated under a bridge, the outside seating area was made up of rows, encouraging conversation with others, back when that was safe.
The Free Trade Inn
Carry on east via Ford St, and you will end up at the final stop, The Free Trade Inn. Exclusively selling home-made craft beers, artisan flavours, and local ales, it had a niche customer base.
They are also holding on with a click and collect service for responsible drinking in isolation.
From here you can turn around and walk west back along the Quayside, until you end up by the Millennium Bridge. The Ouseburn Trail was a unique pub crawl in the city, still somewhat close to the centre. It was full of quirky options, with diverse atmospheres, and featured the very best of the local music and art scenes.
With the lockdown extensions and proposed “partial reopening”, the future of these establishments hangs in the balance. Pubs, bars and restaurants depend on their busy nights and seasons, both for the profits, and in order to be buzzing social venues that people want to visit.
A “partially opened pub” is a pub going out of business, so show your support and appreciation for these venues while you still can.
Cover photo by Megan Andrews